Owen Power is the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the draft on Friday, but with so much missed hockey over the last two seasons, this promises to be one of the most unpredictable drafts in recent memory.
As most junior leagues had already played a big chunk of their regular season schedules before last year’s COVID-19 pandemic shut down the world of sports, the 2021 NHL draft should actually be more wild an unpredictable than 2020. With mostly virtual scouting and large masses of players forced to search for teams and leagues in Europe to play with this past season, evaluating draft prospects has never been tougher.
A pair of Michigan Wolverines teammates in Owen Power and Matthew Beniers are expected to go No. 1 and No. 2 overall respectively, but after that, the field is wide open.
Make sure to check out complete 2021 NHL Draft Props. Also take a look at the NHL Futures Board to see how the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft affected not only the overall 2022 Stanley Cup odds, but the odds for the next Canadian team to hoist Lord Stanley.
2021 NHL Mock Draft
1.) Buffalo Sabres: Owen Power, D (Michigan, NCAA) – The consensus No. 1 pick, Power would be the second big defenceman Buffalo has drafted in the last few years after also taking Rasmus Dahlin in 2018. His closest NHL comparison is Victor Hedman.
2.) Seattle Kraken: Matthew Beniers, C (Michigan NCAA) -Whoever Seattle takes with their first-ever draft pick at No. 2 overall, will instantly become the face of the franchise. Power and Beniers could be the first NCAA players to go 1-2 since Rick DiPietro and Dany Heatley in 2000. A skilled playmaker and two-way player, Beniers’ closest NHL comparison is Bo Horvat.
3.) Anaheim Ducks: Dylan Guenther, RW (Edmonton, WHL) – A natural goal scorer with a high hockey IQ, Guenther put up 24 points in last year’s shortened 12-game WHL season and won gold with Canada at the U-18 World Championship in May. He needs to work on his stamina and strength, but he’s projected to be a top-six NHL player. His closest NHL comparable is T.J. Oshie.
4.) New Jersey Devils: Mason McTavish, C (Peterborough, OHL) – Another member of Canada’s U-18 gold-medal team, McTavish actually ended up playing in Switzerland’s lower professional league this year due to the OHL’s cancelled season. Offensive and physical, he projects to be a Ryan O’Reilly-type player.
5.) Columbus Blue Jackets: Simon Edvinsson, D (Frolunda, SHL) – Edvinsson is a big body with above average mobility, but there remain questions surrounding his offensive ability. Seth Jones is the closest NHL comparable.
6.) Detroit Red Wings: William Eklund, LW (Djurgardens, SHL) – Another potential top-10 pick from Sweden, Eklund is a strong skater with offensive upside and two-way responsibility. Think Sebastian Aho when you think Eklund.
7.) San Jose Sharks: Luke Hughes, D (USA NTDP, USHL) – Younger brother to former No. 1 overall pick Jack Hughes, Luke is considered one of the best skaters in the draft. He’s always a threat to join the rush, but defensively he needs some work. He’s most compared to Morgan Reilly.
8.) LA Kings: Brandt Clarke, D (Barrie, OHL) – Clarke didn’t look out of place playing in Slovakia’s top league due to the OHL’s cancelled season. He’s considered a two-way defenceman, but his skating needs work. His closest NHL comparable is John Klingberg.
9.) Vancouver Canucks: Kent Johnson, C (Michigan, NCAA) – Johnson is a creative offensive player who is adaptable and can play centre or the wing. He looks a lot like another Vancouver player, Elias Pettersson.
10.) Ottawa Senators: Jesper Wallstedt, G (Lulea, SHL) – Wallstedt was the youngest-ever player in Sweden’s Super Elite Jr. League and the Swedish Hockey League. He’s expected to be an NHL starter within a few years and Ottawa desperately needs goaltending depth. Wallstedt has been compared to Ryan Miller.
11.) Arizona Coyotes (forfeited after NHL sanctions against Coyotes in August 2020) – This forfeited pick projects to be about as impactful on the Coyotes roster as most of the picks in Arizona’s franchise history. Sorry, ‘Yotes fans.
12.) Chicago Blackhawks: Chaz Lucius, C (USA NTDP, USHL) – Lucius is a highly skilled offensive player with a high hockey IQ. He was considered an average skater before a recent knee injury, so there’s potential he drops further down the draft. He’s comparable to Brock Nelson.
13.) Calgary Flames: Cole Sillinger, C/LW (Sioux Falls, USHL) – Son of 17-year NHL vet Mike Sillinger, Cole is a consistent, pure shooter. A two-way player, Sillinger tracks as a Logan Couture-type.
14.) Philadelphia Flyers: Brennan Othmann, LW (Flint,OHL) – Othmann spent the season performing well in Sweden’s second-tier league and capped the year off with a gold-medal at the U-18’s. He’s offensively skilled and a well-rounded player, but he’ll need to add size. Othmann looks a lot like Gabriel Landeskog on the ice.
15.) Dallas Stars: Matthew Coronato, RW (Chicago, USHL) – Committed to Harvard for next season, Coronato would be a development project. He’s an elusive attacker and strong skater, but there’s concerns about his offensive side translating to the pro game. Alex DeBrincat would be the closest NHL comparable.
16.) New York Rangers: Fedor Svechkov, C (Togliatti, VHL) – Considered highly skilled offensively, with two-way ability, Svechkov has been good, but not great in Russia’s second-tier league. He’s been compared to another Russian, Pavel Datsyuk.
17.) St. Louis Blues: Carson Lambos, D (JYP, SM Liiga Jr.) – Lambos has a high ceiling as a rare player with size and excellent mobility. He’ll be a coach’s project as his decision making has been questioned, but the upside is worth the gamble. He’s projected as a Ryan McDonagh-like player.
18.) Winnipeg Jets: Corson Ceulemans, D (Brooks, AJHL) – Ceulemans is a gamble, not because of his play, but because of where he played. He only played 14 games of Jr. A this season, but he had a strong showing for Canada’s U-18 team. He’s got top mobility, good size and has been compared to Brent Seabrook.
19.) Nashville Predators: Zachary Bolduc, C (Rimouski, QMJHL) – A strong skater with soft hands, Bolduc is a streaky player, but was highly-touted entering the QMJHL. He needs to add size and has been compared to Elias Lindholm.
20.) Edmonton Oilers: Sebastian Cossa, G (Edmonton, WHL) – Edmonton is another team in need of goaltending depth and Cossa turned heads in the shortened WHL season this year. He went 17-1-1 with a 1.57 GAA, .941 SV and four shutouts. Jakob Markstrom is his closest NHL comparable.
21.) Boston Bruins: Xavier Bourgault, C (Shawinigan, QMJHL) – Bourgault’s last two Q seasons were offensively strong, but there’s questions about his ability to carry a line by himself. He projects to be a J-G Pageau-calibre player.
22.) Minnesota Wild: Fabian Lysell, C (Lulea, SHL) – Lysell holds huge potential upside as a speedy player who can make plays at a high-level pace. The main knock on him is questions regarding his maturity and coachability. Detractors have compared him to Josh Ho-Sang, while proponents see him more like Kyle Palmieri.
23.) Detroit Red Wings (via Washington Capitals, acquired in Anthony Mantha trade): Samu Tuomaala, RW (Karpat, SM Liiga Jr.) – Tuomaala is a solid goalscorer who had 11 points for Finland in seven games at the U-18 World Championship. Often compared to Anthony Beauvillier, the Wings should snap Tuomaala up if he’s still available.
24.) Florida Panthers: Aatu Raty, C (Karpat, Liiga) – Once considered a top-three prospect, Raty’s draft ranking has plummeted after his offensive game took a hit this year. If he can get his confidence back, he’s still a smooth skating, two-way player with great upside. He’s been compared to William Karlsson.
25.) Columbus Blue Jackets (via Toronto Maple Leafs, acquired in Nick Foligno trade): Nikita Chibrikov, RW (SKA St. Petersburg, KHL) – Chibrikov fell in the draft rankings after a poor performance in the gold-medal game at the U-18’s, despite posting 13 points in six games. There’s definitely shades of Kirill Kaprizov here.
26.) Minnesota Wild (via Pittsburgh Penguins, acquired in Jason Zucker trade): Francesco Pinelli, C (Jesenice, SLO) – Pinelli is a smart, two-way centre, who was able to put up 11 points in 13 games in Slovenia after the OHL season was cancelled. J.T. Miller is the best NHL comparison for Pinelli.
27.) Carolina Hurricanes: Daniil Chayka, D (Moskva, KHL) – A little less well-rounded than some of the defencemen ranked ahead of him, Chayka possesses higher offensive potential and has been compared to Jonas Brodin.
28.) Colorado Avalanche: Zachary L’Heureux, LW (Halifax, QMJHL) -L’Heureux is a throwback player who can bury the puck and drop the gloves. If he can stay disciplined, think Brad Marchand (minus the licking) or Matthew Tkachuk.
29.) New Jersey Devils (via New York Islanders, acquired in Kyle Palmieri and Travis Zajac trade): Mackie Samoskevich, C (Chicago, USHL) – Samoskevich is a strong shooter and playmaker, but he’s been inconsistent at times. If he can put all of his offensive skills together, he’ll prove to look a lot like William Nylander.
30.) Vegas Golden Knights: Isak Rosen, RW (Leksands, SHL) – Rosen has a great hockey sense and he can shoot the puck. He can create offence in full stride and he’s been compared to Nikolaj Ehlers and Reilly Smith.
31.) Montreal Canadiens: Sasha Pastujov, LW (USA U-18, USDP) – Pastujov is a craft player who is as likely to beat goalies with his quick release as he is to dish the puck off to teammates. He’s another player who will need to work on his consistency, but he has the potential to turn out a lot like Jordan Eberle in his best years.
32.) Columbus Blue Jackets (via Tampa Bay Lightning, acquired in David Savard trade): Tyler Boucher, RW (USA U-18, NTDP) – Boucher is a great combination of offence and physicality. He’s a hard nosed player who would have done great under John Tortorella.